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Jobless claims hold at 10-month low

Number of initial filers for unemployment insurance was unchanged last week at 505,000.

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The number of first-time filers for unemployment insurance was unchanged last week, holding at the lowest level since January, said a government report released Thursday.

There were 505,000 initial jobless claims filed in the week ended Nov. 14, the same as the revised figure the previous week, the Labor Department said in a weekly report.

A consensus estimate of economists surveyed by Briefing.com expected 504,000 new claims.

The 4-week moving average of initial claims was 514,000, down 6,500 from the previous week's revised average of 520,500.

"After two hefty declines, claims were due a pause this week," said Ian Shepherdson, economist at High Frequency Economics, in a research note.

"Even when the underlying trend is clear, claims tend not to run in the same direction week after week," Shepherdson added.

Claims are "heading in the right direction," Shepherdson said, and he believes employment will level off in the first half of next year -- possibly as soon as the end of the first quarter.

Continuing claims: The government said 5,611,000 people filed continuing claims in the week ended Nov. 7, the most recent data available. That's down 39,000 from the preceding week's ongoing claims.

The 4-week moving average for ongoing claims fell by 83,500 to 5,711,500.

But the slide in continuing claims may signal that more filers are falling off those rolls and into extended benefits.

Continuing claims reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks. The figures do not include those who have moved to state or federal extensions, nor people who have exhausted their benefits.

State-by-state data: Only one state reported a decline in initial claims of more than 1,000 for the week ended Nov. 7, the most recent data available.

Claims in Florida fell by 1,915, which a state-supplied comment attributed to fewer layoffs in the construction, trade, service, manufacturing and agriculture sectors.

Eighteen states said that claims increased by more than 1,000. Michigan reported the most new claims with 6,001; New Jersey's rose by 4,153; Pennsylvania saw a jump of 3,552; New York had 3,508 new claims; and Ohio's increased by 3,292. To top of page

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